Founding Assembly (June 29, 2017)

The welcome word was given by the Director of the Ruđer Bošković Institute, PhD. Tome Antičić, followed by the lectures of the members of our association on the themes of their expertise.

Major General Aviation (UM) Viktor Koprivnjak, “The Air Force of the Republic of Croatia”
mr. Sc. Frane Milos (Amphinicy d.o.o), “Satellite Communication”
prof. Dr. Sc. Bojan Jerbić (FSB), “Intelligent Machines”
Dr. Siniša Marijan (Končar Institute), “Built-in Computers & Examinations in Accredited Laboratories”
prof. Dr. Sc. Ivica Smojver (FSB), “The Potential of International Co-operation of the Republic of Croatia in Aviation”

An overview of the Association’s assignments was given by prof. Dr. Slobodan Danko Bosanac, “A3 – Activities Direction”

First pictures from IECSat-2

Recently, Zoran Kahrić held a lecture on the development of NASA’s ICESat-2 satellite and here’s one of the first pictures we are publishing (thanks to Mr Kahrić).

The picture shows Bikini Atoll. The right figure shows where the laser beams went. In the left picture is beam # 2 (right line in color image); the surface of the sea (with waves) and the deep bottom can be seen. Then the bottom is raised, comes above the sea and begins the lagoon, which is shallow and no waves. At the end of the beam comes a reef that goes down to the surface and starts high waves again.

UK ends Galileo talks, says it will explore a homegrown alternative

The United Kingdom has walked away from negotiations over its post-Brexit involvement in the European Unions Galileo global navigation satellite system (GNSS).

Instead of using Galileos military-grade signal, Prime Minister Theresa May announced Nov. 30 that the U.K. will explore building its own GNSS.

Expected to reachfull operational capacity in the 2020s, Galileo is the EUs answer to navigation systems like the United StatesGPS. Galileos Public Regulated Service (PRS) — a secure and encrypted signal used for defense and government purposes — is meant to be restricted to EU members.

That means that after Brexit, British companies would not be able to bid for contracts involved in developing and maintaining PRS, and the U.K. would have to work out a deal with the EU even to become a passive user of the military-grade signal, unless another arrangement was reached.

May blamed the end of the negotiations on the European Commissions “decision to bar the UK from being fully involved in developing all aspects of Galileo.”

Instead of using Galileo’s military-grade signal, Prime Minister Theresa May announced Nov. 3 that the U.K. will explore building its own GNSS. Credit: ESA artist’s concept

“I cannot let our Armed Services depend on a system we cannot be sure of,” May said in a statement. “That would not be in our national interest. And as a global player with world-class engineers and steadfast allies around the world we are not short of options.”

Sam Gyimah, the U.K.s universities and science minister, resigned from his post in protest, calling Galileo “only a foretaste of what’s to come” under the Brexit deal.

“Having surrendered our voice, our vote and our veto, we will have to rely on the ‘best endeavours’ of the EU to strike a final agreement that works in our national interest,” Gyimah wrote in a long statement posted to his Facebook page. “As Minister with the responsibility for space technology I have seen firsthand the EU stack the deck against us time and time again, even while the ink was drying on the transition deal. Galileo is a clarion call that it will be ‘EU first,’ and to think otherwise—whether you are a leaver or remainer—is at best incredibly naive.”

Some space policy experts said its not out of the question for a deal over Galileo access to be reached in the future.

“Theres no reason Britain should have given up trying to gain access to PRS as a passive user, in the same way that the United Statesmilitary allies use GPS for the military signal,” said Bleddyn Bowen,a lecturer in international relations at the University of Leicester. “The EU wasnt ruling out that Britain could use PRS as a passive third-party in the same way we do with GPS.”

Similarly, Sa’id Mosteshar, of the London Institute of Space Policy and Law, said that the armed forces of non-EU members can gain access to the signal under asecurity agreement with the EU. “It was open to the U.K. to reach such an agreement and it is surprising that it has decided not to do so,” Mosteshar said.

Bowen added that the Brexit process is in “quite a moment of flux” and he thought the Galileo issue could be picked up again in the future.

“The declaration from Theresa May was basically, I think, to make Britain look like it had agency in the matter rather than cutting off its nose to spite its face,” Bowen said. “It is really more political theater as May is now fighting at this crunch moment in the Brexit process because Parliament may be undertaking a contempt of Parliament motion against her.”

Earlier this year U.K. space officials had floated the idea that they could partner with another country, such as Australia, to build a new GNSS. In August, the British government announced it would spend92 million pounds ($117 million) from a “Brexit readiness fund” to study the prospects for building an independent alternative to Galileo.

“The cost of developing a national replacement has been estimated to be in the region of £3 billion to £5 billion ($3.8 billion to $6.3 billion) and this is a significant expenditure when considering that the current U.K. space budget is only £370 million ($470 million) per year with the majority of that going to fulfill U.K. commitments to ESA,” said Christopher Newman, a professor of space law and policy at Northumbria University.

Newman added that it wasnt clear where the budget for such an expensive project would come from.

“Either it wipes out the existing U.K. space budget for 10 years,” he told SpaceNews, “or, as is more likely, it is additional defense expenditure that others will argue could be much more effectively be spent elsewhere.”

Though Galileo is an EU program, it is operated by the European Space Agency (ESA), a separate body which the U.K. will remain part of after Brexit. Newman said the Galileo negotiations may have damaged the U.K.’s ability “to maintain good relationships across ESA.”

 “The U.K.’s commitments to working collaboratively in space with European partners contrasts sharply with some of the bellicose rhetoric that has been seen in respect of the Galileo program,” Newman said. “This will not have gone unnoticed by potential collaborators when further, lucrative space-based projects are put out for tender by the EU.”

The Financial Times reported that the British government is expected to seek compensation for the 1.2 billion pounds ($1.5 billion) it has invested in Galileo’s development.

Original article: SpaceNews.com

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DLR is developing a reusable rocket engine for launching small satellites

Whether alone or in a constellation, small satellites weighing from just a few kilograms (nanosatellites) up to several hundred kilograms (micro- and minisatellites) are becoming increasingly technologically sophisticated and have the potential to fundamentally change the space industry.

In the coming years, hundreds of such small satellites will be carried into Earth orbit. As part of the EU project SMILE (Small Innovative Launcher for Europe), researchers from the Institute of Structures and Design at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have developed a reusable rocket engine especially for launching such satellites, and have performed an initial series of successful trials on a test rig.

dlr 1

The first hot firing test was on the high-pressure test rig of the SMILE project partner PLD Space. (courtesy: DLR)

dlr 2

Central components of the rocket engine developed at the DLR Institute of Structures and Design are the 3D printed injector head and the ceramic combustion chamber. (courtesy: DLR)

Small satellite launches – Independent, flexible and cost-effective

Until now, small satellites have tended to be carried into space aboard large rockets, if there is enough room for them. The primary aim of these flights is to place large satellites in a specific orbit. Small satellites take second place as far as timing and target orbit are concerned. For this reason, 14 European research institutions and companies are working on designing an economical rocket launcher within the SMILE project. This should enable small satellites weighing up to 70 kilograms to be carried to near-Earth orbits. The project focuses on the technology required for propulsion, on-board electronics and cost-effective production.

3D printing as a success factor

The rocket engine, developed by DLR scientists specifically for this application, consists of two central components – the metal injector head and the ceramic combustion chamber. Belgian project partner 3D Systems manufactured the prototype injector out of a nickel-chromium alloy using metal 3D printing. 3D printing is an additive process. Digital design data is used to build up or rather print the desired structure in layers by depositing material. “Thanks to this relatively new manufacturing technology, we need significantly fewer parts and process steps, which speeds up the manufacturing process for the injector and reduces production costs. At the same time, we have been able to significantly reduce the mass of the components, which is always a very important factor in aerospace applications,” says Markus Kuhn, responsible for the project at the DLR Institute of Structures and Design in Stuttgart.

Combustion chamber made of high-performance ceramics

The researchers used a special high-performance material for the combustion chamber – a carbon fibre-reinforced ceramic that consists mainly of silicon carbide and was developed primarily at the DLR institute in Stuttgart. It is particularly well-suited for high-temperature applications and reliably withstands even extreme temperature changes. “Reusability was an important consideration in development. If the entire system can be used multiple times, operating costs are significantly reduced, making commercial implementation attractive to companies,” says Ilja Müller, Rocket Propulsion Systems Engineer at the Institute of Structures and Design.

First tests passed with flying colours

In hot firing tests in September 2018, the team led by DLR researcher Markus Kuhn subjected the rocket engine to an initial test run. It successfully completed a total of 18 tests at the high-pressure test bench of Spanish project partner PLD Space, with a firing time of up to 45 seconds, thereby showing very high combustion efficiency of over 90 percent. Liquid oxygen (LOx) and kerosene were used in the tests.

ESA’s space vision presented at Paris Peace Forum

ESA astronaut Claudie Haigneré attended the Paris Peace Forum this weekend, presenting the Agency’s vision for engaging humankind in multilateral cooperation for space exploration with peaceful objectives.

An initiative launched by President Macron of France, the Paris Peace Forum is an annual platform for global governance projects and was conceived as a response to tensions in the contemporary world. Taking place this year on 11-13 November, the centenary marking the end of the First World War, the event includes the attendance of over 60 international Heads of State.

Based on the belief that durable peace can only be achieved through international cooperation in several sectors, including space exploration, the Forum was an ideal opportunity to present ESA’s ‘Moon Village’ vision. This foresees a peaceful global cooperation to achieve a space landmark for humankind in 21st century, realising the potential of humankind as spacefaring species, while providing benefits and opportunities to as many people as possible on Earth.

Claudie Haigneré
Claudie Haigneré

Astronaut Claudie Haigneré said, “The question is not whether humankind will return to the Moon, but rather when and who. Our ‘Moon Village’ concept is an ambitious vision, a multi-partner open concept, it’s a step to engage all humankind, and not just separate nations, towards a component of its future.”

The Moon Village concept was introduced three years ago as a proposal for the post-International Space Station space programme. Over the last few years, plans to return to the Moon have gained interest and moved up the agendas of government, space agencies and private entrepreneurs.

A number of initiatives and missions are under way: from the US-led Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway and Chinese plans to explore the Moon, to European initiatives conducted through ESA. All these efforts converge towards a common goal: returning to and going forward to the Moon establishing a permanent presence.

But, although international in nature, these projects still replicate to some extent the ‘competitive approach’ of earlier ventures. They lack the global approach that would maximise results, allow wider participation, inspire younger generations and further mutual understanding and cooperation.

ESA has been working to promote this approach, also reaching out to non-space potential partners and other interested parties. This is the chance to rally the whole international community around a truly global vision where, through suitable governance mechanisms, any nation can be part of the effort regardless of their actual space capability.

Claudie Haigneré said, “Mobilised together towards this new step of humankind’s expansion, let us leave aside our national divisions and rivalries. As we move from our planet Earth, our cradle, let us grasp the opportunity to think differently in terms of multilateral cooperation, peaceful objectives, and respect for diverse interests and preservation of our common interests.

“We share the values that are promoted in this forum: respect, peaceful objectives with soft leadership and inclusiveness for inspiration. The spirit of the Moon Village is not taking part in a space race or competition, but an expression of cooperation, shared responsibility and sustainability.

“It not just a temporary adventure, or a nomadic exploration, but a true sustainable endeavour, with the wish to contribute in return to a better management of our planet Earth. We want to gather high-level political will to take this tremendous opportunity to think about the future of humankind on a new basis. The generations of the 21st century will be grateful for this fascinating endeavour.”

Claudie Haigneré and Piero Messina were accompanied by ESA Director General Jan Wörner with the support of ESA astronaut Frank De Winne, Head of the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany.